October 24, 2013

Oct. 26 Tamarack Book Signing

On Saturday October 26, I'll be in Becklely, WV signing my books at the Tamarack Book Store from 11 am until 4 pm. Hope to see you there! Hugs, Barbara

October 17, 2013

New Post of Sweet Baby James - Chapter One Continued and a book signing....

Another week has gone by and here's the continuation of my novel Sweet Baby James. Trying to get it finished by year's end. I have a book signing this coming Sat. Oct. 26th at Tamarack in Beckley, again. I love going there. It's fun to see all the beautiful quilts and crafts made by West Virginia artisans. I'm thrilled to have my two books in the book store there. Many people come through this center over a every day and I'm always fortunate enough to meet some lovely people who are touring the country, people going to or from vacations. People always in a festive mood. It's a fun place to be! Good food in the restaurant, by chefs trained at Greenbrier, and a great coffee stand and ice cream stand. So if you are near there, come by and say hello. Here's the continuation of Sweet Baby James. Remember, comments are welcome! Please! Hugs.                                       


“Albert Ray,” Mama said, gathering strength and partly rising in the bed, “Pour me a drink of water, please. My indigestion is out of whack. I drank soda water earlier. It didn’t help. All I need is a good burp.” 
Albert poured a cup of water for her and held the straw while she drank.
Joy Ruth touched her shoulder. “You’ve had all those appointments lately with Dr. Marshall. What’s that about?”
“I swear, you girls are a big part of my trouble.” She held her chest. “You’re always in my business. I didn’t bring you up to be such smart mouths.”
“Knock, knock, knock.” Joy Ruth stepped closer to the bed and pounded on her own head. “Come in, Mama. You didn’t bring us up. Remember?” 
Suddenly, tension became a big presence in the room. 
“If you recall,” Joy Ruth softened her voice, “daddy did that part.”
Vada Faith stared hard at her sister. Joy Ruth had never confronted their mother about abandoning them when they were little. They’d been with their daddy, but still. Sure she’d returned when they were adults but she hadn’t been around when they really needed her. The three of them were still resolving issues.
It had always been Vada Faith with the chip on her shoulder, always wanting to pick away at the wound. Not Joy Ruth. She’d always had a soft spot for their mama. 
Their mother looked uncomfortable for a moment then covered her legs with the sheet. “Seems to me it’s cold in here.” She cleared her throat. “Albert Ray, be a dear, will you. Get me some Tums from the gift shop.” 
Vada Faith was tired of playing games. “You are a master at changing the subject, Mama. Especially when the subject is something you don’t want to discuss.” 
“Tums it is, Babes,” he said, standing up. He walked obediently toward the curtain.
“Don’t go clear to China,” she said. “I may need your help. These two might gang up on me.” 
“Right,” he said over his shoulder, relief showing on his face as he headed off down the hall, glad to have something to do besides watch his girl be unhappy.
“Now, let’s talk,” Joy Ruth said, sitting down on the bed with their mother when he was gone. “You need to be honest with us.”
Helena started coughing and pulling tissues from the box, one right after the other.
Vada Faith sat down in the chair beside the bed and waited.
Mama stared up at Joy Ruth. “You are supposed to be concentrating on getting pregnant. No wonder you’re not having any luck in that department. You’re too concerned with everybody else. You both have that beauty shop of yours to worry about. Vada Faith, you have James, Charity and Hope to take care of. Don’t you all have your hands full without worrying about me?”
“I am concentrating on getting pregnant.” Joy Ruth jumped off the bed and walked to the far side of the room to look out the window. “I’m telling Bruiser you were rude.
“Tell him,” Mama said, “and see if I care. I’m sure he’d enjoy a little more attention from you. If you get my drift.” She fell back on the bed for emphasis. “Go talk to the doctor I don’t care.” She closed her eyes. “Just leave me alone.”  Her auburn head sunk deeper into her pillow.
“I’m sorry.” Joy Ruth came back to sit on the bed.
“You’re awfully cranky.” Vada Faith looked at her sister. “Are you pregnant?” 
“I’m late. Doesn’t mean a thing. False alarm, I’m sure.”
“Pregnant?” Mama’s eyes opened wide.
“No, and I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s no fun going through this. Wanting a baby and being disappointed every month.”
“Let’s get back to the subject, Mama.” Vada Faith stood up. “Should we go talk to your doctor?”
“No,” Mama said, “don’t do that.” Her eyes filled with tears.
“Then tell us what’s wrong?” Vada Faith’s breath nearly stopped at her mother’s tears.
“Andy has ordered some tests on my lungs. Don’t know what is going on there or why I’ve got this stupid cough.” Their mother worked the sheet into a ball. “The other news is,” she lowered her voice, “the other news is, he suspects I have breast cancer.”
“No,” Joy Ruth wailed, flinging herself down on the bed and nearly crushing poor skinny mama. 
“It’s not that bad,” Mama said. “There, there.” She patted Joy Ruth on the back.
“Get off Mama!” Vada Faith demanded and tried to pull her sister by the arm. Joy Ruth didn’t budge. There were rivers of tears rolling down her cheeks. 
“How long have you known?” Vada Faith’s voice came out in a squeak.
“A few days. Andy Marshall sent me to a specialist. There’s a lot to think about, still tests to do. He said the lump is small and my prognosis is excellent. I might just need a lumpectomy. I’ll know soon.” 
Joy Ruth stood and paced the room, wiping her tears. She reached over to squirt sanitizer into her hands from the dispenser on the wall.  “You could have told us.”
“You both have your hands full.” She grabbed another tissue from the box and wiped her nose. “The doctor said some of my fatigue could be from stress. Planning a big wedding and all.”
“Will you go through with the wedding next month and marry Albert?”
“Of course, I’m going through with this wedding and marrying that dear sweet man. I know. I know. I’ve cancelled on him several times before. Not this time.” Her eyes grew misty. “Though he might not want to marry me now. Especially if I lose a breast.”
“He would never abandon you,” Joy Ruth said, lowering herself into a chair. “He loves you. He’s waited all these years. Besides he’s not marrying your boobs.”
“He could be marrying me for my boobs,” her mother spoke up. “You can ask him for yourself.” 
Albert had peeked his head into the cubicle.
“Ask me what?” He came over and handed Helena several packages of Tums. He bent and kissed her cheek.
“If you’re marrying me or my breast?” she asked, reaching up affectionately, giving him an embrace. 
She didn’t take her eyes off his face.
He grinned down at her. “Babes, I’ll love whatever there is of you to love. We can always buy you a new breast or two. Maybe even three. I might not mind three.” He opened his big hands wide as if he were grasping melons.
“Albert!” She blushed. “I surely don’t want three.” She beamed up at him. “Now, go home, girls. I’m in good hands, well, um,” she stared at Albert’s hands, “you know what I mean. I’ll call you later, when I get up to my room.”
“You sure, Mama?” Joy Ruth asked. 
“I’m sure, and remember, I’m praying for a baby miracle.” 
“We’re praying for a miracle for you too, Mama,” Joy Ruth said, leaning over and giving her a kiss.
Vada Faith reached over and hugged her mother and then led the way down the hospital corridor, weaving in and out of patients with IV poles. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She was wondering why had such a perfect life when her mother and sister had such heart ache. 

On the drive home, she prayed for a miracle. She believed in miracles , she just didn’t know if ordinary people ever got them. 

End of Chapter One
Anyone interested in reading the beginning of Chapter Two?  Let me know and I'll post the first few pages. Comments welcome, please. Thanks and hugs. 

October 10, 2013

Sweet Baby James - by Barbara A. Whittington

I've been away from my desk for too many weeks. First, the wonderful West Virginia Writer's Conference in Ripley, WV, where I went with good friend Jill S. My book Vada Faith was finally in the book store there and we had great fun at the workshops, renewing old friendships and making new. June also saw the publication of my second book Ezra and Other Stories, then there was the rush of summer, enjoying the long sunny days. The Null family reunion in August was one of the highlights of summer. Too, I had one great day at a book signing for both my books at the Tamarack in Beckley, WV. I talked to travelers from all over and sold quite a few books.

The highlight of September was a book signing at the Pickaway County Library in Circleville. Quite a crowd came. I gave a workshop on getting published, using my own experiences to hopefully make the pathway easier for someone else. Even sold a few books, which is always fun. I had a great time and so did the participants.

Recently, I started back on this novel, and fell in love with the story all over again. It was fun being back with Vada Faith and her family, which now includes her young son, James.

However, at the end of the month, R had a cerebral stroke and was taken to the hospital. All writing went by the wayside as I traveled back and forth to the city for two weeks, over 800 miles total. I'm a caregiver once again. It's a role which has spanned many years. And one that takes some getting used to each time it occurs. I'm still in the getting used to stage. R is now having in home therapy and I'm putting on my creative hat once again. At least for short spaces of time - for now.

After saying all that, I want to offer the beginning of my next novel, Sweet Baby James. It's the continuation of the story of Vada Faith. I'm doing this to hopefully entertain you and to solicit comments. All are welcome, good, bad, or indifferent. I want to know your opinion on this piece. It helps when I write the final draft of the book. Many thanks for reading and for your help! I appreciate. Blessings and hugs, Barb

Beginning of Chapter One, Sweet Baby James, Shady Creek, West Virginia

“What if Mama dies?” Joy Ruth wailed as Vada Faith ran another caution light on the way to Memorial Hospital. “It can’t be good. The squad took her in.”
“If you don’t get off my arm and let me steer this car, we’ll be in a bed beside her.” Vada Faith pushed at her twin who had a death grip on her right arm.  “Are you ten? Get off!” 
“Don’t you care if she dies?”Joy Ruth loosened her grip on her sister’s arm. She busied herself wiping her tears and staring down at her soaked tissue.
“She’s not dying. She passed out.” Vada Faith shook her arm to get the feeling back.
As the hospital loomed before them, Vada Faith pulled into the parking lot adjacent to the emergency room. She had barely stopped the car when Joy Ruth jumped out and headed toward the entrance. 
“We’re not in a competition here,” she yelled. She grabbed her sweater and hurried after her sister. She knew it would do no good to yell at her. They were always in a competition.
Inside, a nurse guided them back through the double doors of the emergency area and pushed aside blue curtains to reveal their mother sitting up in bed. Helena Warfield appeared cool and collected but her hands were shaking.
“I should have known you two would be here.” The woman groaned and fingered the sheet around her. “Bruiser can’t keep anything to himself.” 
“Bruiser didn’t call us, Mama. Blame the hospital for that,” Joy Ruth said.
Vada Faith was relieved she was well enough to complain. She leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. Joy Ruth did the same.
“Well, Bruiser was with the squad when they picked me up.” Mama sniffed. “I figured he’d report to his wife and she’d report to her sister. No secrets between you two. Now the whole town will know.”
“Are you saying we would tell everyone?” Joy Ruth’s eyebrows shot up.
“Did you two close that beauty shop to come here?” Mama ignored Joy Ruth’s question. “That’s a good way to lose customers. I’m fine. See.” She waved her hand in the air, as if waving away all concerns anyone might have. “I don’t know why the squad hauled me here. It’s all Bruiser’s fault. That son-in-law of mine. I told that boy. I don’t need to go to the hospital. Did he listen?” She adjusted herself in the bed. 
“How about because you passed out cold.” Joy Ruth said, and leaned over to brush a strand of auburn hair from their mother’s forehead. “Thank God Albert had the good sense to call the squad and that my husband, your smart son-in-law, Bruiser, insisted on bringing you here. You could be dead on the floor.”  
Albert, Mama’s longtime boyfriend, cleared his throat. They turned to where he sat by her bed between an IV pole and a heart monitor. “That Bruiser, he sure knows his business, honey.” He nodded at Joy Ruth. “You should be proud of him. We owe him for reacting so quickly. All the men on the squad are professionals.”
“Horse feathers.” Helena coughed into the tissue she’d yanked from a box on the night stand. As she coughed her skin seemed to take on a bluish tint.
“You can horse feathers all you want, Mama. Him and his team have the best emergency team in the state. They have awards to prove it. If he hadn’t been on duty, your skinny butt might still be laying on that new hardwood floor in your living room.”  
“Do we have a Helena in here?” A nurse popped her head inside the curtain.
“Yes,” Mama said, waving her in. “That’s me.”
The nurse brought her ample self inside the curtain and slapped a wrist band on mama before she could say one word. “There.” She smiled at her accomplishment. “No chance we’ll lose you now.”
“You’re losing me all right.” Mama put one foot over the side of the bed. “I’m going home.”
“Oh, I don’t think so, sweet cakes. Not right now.” The nurse turned to go, “For now you put those little feet back into that bed. The doc’s getting you a room upstairs.” As she left she closed the curtain with an efficient swoosh.
“Humph.” Mama said, pulling herself back into the bed and fingering the neck of the green hospital gown.
“Is that gown too tight, Mama?” Vada Faith leaned over prepared to fix it.
“No, it’s just uncomfortable. If I stay here I’ll have to have my gowns and my make up case from home.”
“I’ll go over later,” Albert said, “and pack a bag for you.”
Mama turned to Joy Ruth. “I know your husband is a fine man. However, I believe all those medics practice on well people. How else could they try out all that new equipment? Why, they had me hooked up to every kind of machine. Even administered an IV.” She looked down at her arm where the IV was still in place. “They did an EKG right in the squad. I’m sorry. I know Bruiser means well. However, he shouldn’t work on well people.” 
Joy Ruth rolled her eyes and continued to listen to her mother. 
“Why, Wilma Dunlap over at the senior center said if one of those old people passes gas the squad drags them to the hospital. For what I want to know?” She shook her head. “Are they getting a kickback? Personally I think they get off on hearing that siren.” She coughed loudly. “Maybe they all wanted to be doctors, just weren’t smart enough. Bruiser almost needed a stretcher when he saw me on the floor. I tried to tell him Albert could get me up off the floor. Mr. Hero Himself here,” she nodded over at Albert, “he had to call the squad. Make a big deal. Now here you two are making things worse.” 
“Making things worse?” Now, Joy Ruth was not happy.
“I wouldn’t let you get up,” Albert interrupted, “because I knew you needed to be checked out.” Albert’s voice was strong as he defended himself. “Furthermore, you are staying right here until you feel better. I’ll be staying with you to make sure of it.”
“Well, that squad had better not send me a bill for this trip, that’s all I can say. My insurance rates are high enough.” She sighed wearily. “It’s all about money. Everything today. Isn’t that true, Albert?” 
Vada Faith watched as mama put her hand on her chest and struggled to take a deep breath. 
“That’s right, Babes,” he said, using her pet name. “That’s right.” Albert looked pained each time his girl drew a difficult breath.
“I might have to stay here but you girls don’t. So go on home. You need to be with your families. Especially you,” she nodded at Vada Faith. “You’ve got the baby to take care of and the girls. Go on now, shoo.” She waved her tissue in dismissal.
“The kids are fine, Mama.” Vada Faith spoke up. “Cindy Brewster is babysitting James. The girls are at school.” She rummaged through her purse and pulled out a snapshot, handing it to her mother. “I took this of the twins and James last week.” 
Mama took the picture and held it to her breast, tears coming to her eyes. “James is the most beautiful baby. Ah, the girls too. Look at them. On the porch swing. James sure loves his teddy bear. The children remind me of you, honey, with that blond hair.” She held out the photo. “Here, Albert, look.”
“They’re growing fast, that’s for sure.” He studied the picture a few minutes then held the photo out to Vada Faith.
“No, that’s for Mama to keep.” 
Helena took the photo from Albert and propped it against her purse on the night stand.
“When you get well,” Vada Faith said, “you can bake James another batch of those teething biscuits. They’re so much better than the ones I buy.” She patted her mother’s hand. “He’s already passed his ten month birthday but we’ll celebrate when you’re well. Teething biscuits with frosting.” 
“Okay then you girls go on home. I’ll stay right here and be good.” 

“First, we want to know what’s wrong with you, Mama.” Vada Faith pushed the issue.

TO BE CONT. NEXT WEEK - Remember comments welcome!